Drowning in a Glass of Water

September 15th, 2009

I recently had a challenge in my life, where the outcome of my actions, at the very worse, would have been minimal and most likely would not have occurred at all. However the thought of the possible negative consequences overwhelmed me, and literally took over my life. I was doing one of things that I do best, and that is “catastrophizing ” (chronically looking at the worse possible outcome). My wife, in effort to help me see my “dysfunction” said, “Why are you are drowning yourself in a glass of water?” Well put, I thought. What a perfect expression of what I seemed to be doing to myself and I began to look this aspect of me.

Others might call it awfulizing or “making a mountain out of molehill” and there are many other terms for same thing. And how in our lives, can we sort out the “real threats” from the imagined threats”? And how often have many of us done this at times?

And so how can one avoid Drowning in a Glass of Water, and still be reasonably cautious in one’s life? I have found it is very difficult to get “outside of myself” and look realistically at the actions or problems that I am facing unless I have some sort of a plan.

What I am suggesting is a tool which we might call an organized Reality Check Box or “worry box” of the issues that you are facing. This is a device that I have found useful or order to systematically evaluate the validity of my concerns

The following just a few of the thoughts that I suggest be placed in that box and considered. And there may be many more in an any individual’s case

1. List the fears that may be consuming you

2. Realize that fear is a normal part of the human condition

3. In life “stuff happens”. No one is exempt. How we deal with it is optional.

4. How valid are the “what ifs” that seem to engulf me.

5. Know that our perceptions are colored by our life experiences to that point, but these perceptions may not represent reality,

6. All of this is part of our natural survival instinct, be it a perceived physical danger or a perceived emotional or social consequence

7. These considerations not meant to negate events or actions that may be genuinely perilous.

And now how does one use this tool? I suggest that you list your fears on paper, and then go over the rest of the items to be considered as you evaluate you the likelihood of your fears being manifested. Next I suggest attempting to get outside of yourself and view these “perceived threats” from a third person’s viewpoint. At best this difficult. And finally if need be, talk to friend. The process of verbalizing and hearing yourself can often lead to clarity, as can suggestions from your friend.

I truly believe that this process one can prevent one from Drowning in a Glass of Water. With my wife’s help, it did in my case.

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